RIP: Gil Scott-Heron, 1949-2011

Gil Scott-Heron
Poet, musician, author and activist…

Gil Scott-Heron, who died on Friday, was all of those things… and more. He’s been called “the Godfather of Hip-Hop” and “the black Bob Dylan.”

He made his recording debut back in 1970 with “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and recorded more than a dozen albums over the course of the next 12 years. His most recent album, last year’s “I’m New Here,” was his first new studio album in more than 15 years.

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THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
by Gil Scott-Heron

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

FURTHER READING:
Gil Scott-Heron’s official website
Gil Scott-Heron’s obituary at The New York Times
“Remembering Gil Scott-Heron” at Nippertown.com

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3 Responses to “RIP: Gil Scott-Heron, 1949-2011”

  1. Eggman says:

    He also inspired a great band name Girl Scout Heroin

    And I believe he is featured on the latest Kanye West album.

  2. michael eck says:

    Bummer. Was not aware of this. I am blessed to have been able to see Scott-Heron live many years ago in Northampton. I was also lucky enough (under the pseudonym Michel Ruby) to write a feature on Scott-Heron and review his entire catalog for Amazon.com when it first launched its music site in the 90s.

    He had a very difficult life, as delineated in a recent New Yorker profile and was truly a unique voice.

    You can make a strong case that hip-hop wouldn’t exit without the contributions of Gil Scott-Heron and his contemporaries, The Last Poets.

  3. Normando says:

    Mike – it’s not so much rap exiting, it’s where would it go?

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist the typo bait.)

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